It seems as if Amir Khan has spent the past few weeks trying not to look ahead to a potential mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in September, while Greenlawn's Chris Algieri has been asked to look back and deconstruct his disappointing showing against Manny Pacquiao last November.
But Khan (30-3, 19 KOs) and Algieri (20-1, eight KOs) are going to meet in the middle of a ring Friday night at Barclays Center, and there's a real chance a very dramatic fight will break out.
Although Algieri is a heavy 8-1 underdog against the British star, he said it is an "eerily familiar scenario" to one year ago, when he upset WBO super lightweight champion Ruslan Provodnikov in the same ring.
Once again, Algieri is brimming with confidence after working with new trainer John David Jackson to develop the skills he showed in the Provodnikov fight but failed to execute against Pacquiao. "John isn't reinventing the wheel," Algieri said. "He's just finding things that are inside of me and bringing them out. But I feel we have made some dramatic changes. I feel very confident."
Having moved up to welterweight, Algieri weighed in Thursday a shade under the 147-pound limit at 146.2 pounds compared to 146.4 for Khan. When it's time for the main event on the Premier Boxing Champions show televised on Spike TV, Algieri expects to weigh between 155 and 160 and come in stronger than ever.
Jackson said Algieri "looked lost" when he suffered six knockdowns against Pacquiao. But when Jackson looked at the Provodnikov fight, the former two-time champ said, "Chris reminded me of myself in one aspect. I set a pace most fighters couldn't deal with. After Provodnikov got past round four, his tank was done. Chris got stronger and stronger and stronger. He's ready for 12 hard rounds. I think that's going to be a big key."
Algieri described Khan as a "sprinter who comes out very fast" but added, "I've seen him get tired in most fights. If we can get on him and keep up the pressure and use my endurance, then we can get him to do what he naturally does, which is coming forward and throwing and being in front of you."
Khan expressed respect for Algieri's wins over Emanuel Taylor and Provodnikov last year and for taking on Pacquiao, and he can relate to Algieri's excitement about working with Jackson. It was just four fights ago that Khan switched to Virgil Hunter after two straight losses and tried to alter his reckless style. At the same time, he believes his speed and experience will be too much for Algieri.
"I don't think Algieri has the skills to beat me," Khan said. "Even the old Amir Khan would beat Chris Algieri.
"Pacquiao beat Algieri quite convincingly because of the fast footwork he had getting in quick, throwing his combination quick and getting back out. So we have a similar strategy. I'm going to have to be on my 'A' game because he really thinks it's going to be another fight like Provodnikov. I need to show him who Amir Khan is."